The Denver Post, ABC News, and The Washington Post all uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain, during an August 14 appearance in Aspen, Colorado, responded to criticism that he had changed his position on President Bush's tax cuts by stating he originally opposed them because they were not accompanied by spending reductions. None of these outlets noted that when McCain voted against the tax cuts in 2001, the reason he gave in his Senate floor statement was not that they were not accompanied by spending cuts but, rather, that "so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
The Wall Street Journal reported that the RNC "made note of Sen. Obama's party-line votes. During the 109th Congress, which was in session in 2005-2006, Sen. Obama voted along party lines 97% of the time. Sen. McCain voted with his party 81% of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly." But in citing only the CQ 2005-2006 "party unity" scores provided by the RNC, the Journal failed to note that according to a 2008 CQ study, McCain voted in support of the Bush administration's position 95 percent of the time in 2007, making McCain the administration's most reliable supporter in the Senate that year.
In a "Political Memo," Adam Nagourney distorted a quote from Sen. Barack Obama's Berlin speech in which Obama referred to himself as "a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world." Nagourney cited only the second part of the quote, telling readers to "expect" that in future ads Sen. John McCain will highlight "Mr. Obama's presenting himself as a 'fellow citizen of the world.' "
A Reuters article included Sen. John McCain's charge that Sen. Barack Obama "tried to prevent funding for troops that carried out the surge." In fact, Obama, who has repeatedly voted for bills that include funds for the Iraq war, voted against a troop funding bill in May 2007, he said, because it did not include a timeline for withdrawal. Reuters reporter Alister Bull did not correct the falsehood, nor did he note that McCain himself has voted against war funding legislation.
Today's example: Howard Kurtz. The Daily Howler details the absurdities when Kurtz puts a McCain spot under the microscope.
On NPR, Cokie Roberts asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's vacation to Hawaii "makes him seem a little bit more exotic," and characterized Hawaii as "a somewhat odd place to be doing it," despite also asserting, "I know that he is from Hawaii, he grew up there, his grandmother lives there." Roberts previously criticized Obama on ABC's This Week, stating that Obama's vacation in Hawaii "has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place."
Jesse Taylor at Pandagon marvels at how everythng seems to be going John McCain's way, according to the press. (And specifically, according to today's Politico.) Not bad for the guy who's behind in the polls.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace did not challenge McCain campaign manager Rick Davis' assertion that "[y]ou'll never find [Sen.] John McCain changing his stripes just because of an election," despite criticism of Sen. John McCain's shifts on policy, some of which he has acknowledged. Indeed, McCain has "chang[ed] his stripes" and reversed his position on comprehensive immigration reform and the religious right.
Honestly, if the Post's Deborah Howell's doesn't want to use the power of her ombudsman position for good, why doesn't she give over to somebody who will?
Today's column is a perfect example of Howell refusing to be straight with readers regarding very bad Post journalism. Howell looks at reader complaints regarding a quote from Obama the paper used this week after the candidate addressed Congressional Democrats behind closed doors. The Post reporter wasn't in the room, but a source emailed him the Obama quote: "'I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
The Post's Dana Milbank then used the quote in his column to depict Obama as arrogant.
Asked about using the quote, Milbank said the source was "unimpeachable" and there was no need to verify it with others in attendance. But a couple sentences later Howell notes that "partisan blogs, Obama fans and House aides were disputing the quotation." In fact, it seems quite clear that the Post's source only passed along part of the Obama quote; the part that made him look bad.
Yet Powell still waters her verdict down and leaves readers with the impression that the episode was no big deal.
Fox & Friends aired Sen. John McCain's Web ad showing video of Democrats praising McCain, but did not air the DNC's response, which contains clips of many of the same Democrats criticizing McCain.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity asserted of Sen. Barack Obama: "I never hear the inspiring -- where is the inspiring rhetoric about how great this country is? I never hear him talk about that." In fact, Obama has regularly talked about "how great this country is"; during a speech in Iowa in January, Obama said: "Hope is the bedrock of this nation -- the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be."
On Fox News, Sean Hannity asserted, "Bill Clinton says that Barack Obama may not be ready to be president." But Clinton did not say that. Rather, during an interview with ABC's Kate Snow, Clinton said, "[Y]ou could argue that no one is ever ready to be president," adding, "I mean, I certainly learned a lot about the job in my first year." Clinton went on to praise Obama, saying that "[h]e's shown a keen strategic sense" and "he's smart as a whip."
On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly criticized an Obama campaign ad for including a May 2003 statement from Sen. John McCain, in which McCain said that "there was a recent study that showed that I voted with the president 90 percent of the time." O'Reilly asserted that the "country was in a far different place" when McCain made those comments. In fact, according to a vote analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly, McCain was the administration's most reliable supporter in 2007.
On his radio show, Sean Hannity said that Sen. Barack Obama "can't point to a single instance in which President Bush or McCain or Karl Rove or Sean Hannity or talk radio or any other major Republican has made an issue of Obama's race." In fact, Hannity asserted on the March 2 edition of Hannity's America: "As more is learned about Barack Obama's positions, his past, and his affiliations, it seems that the 'change' candidate has all the same problems with race as those before him," and later added, "It's only fair to ask: Do the Obamas have a race problem of their own?" Media Matters has also documented numerous examples of other radio and TV personalities making "an issue of Obama's race."
Echoing The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, Fox News' Neil Cavuto repeated as fact a disputed version of a comment Sen. Barack Obama reportedly made in a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats, citing it as purported evidence that Obama's "messianic thing is getting a little over the top."